7 Great Restaurants in Edinburgh's City Centre

The centre of Edinburgh is crammed with places to eat and drink offering local produce and creative dishes
The centre of Edinburgh is crammed with places to eat and drink offering local produce and creative dishes | © Kate Bielinski / Unsplash
Photo of Suzy Pope
18 August 2020

Edinburgh‘s narrow wynds of the medieval Old Town and the grand townhouses of the Georgian New Town are crammed with places to eat and drink – all with plenty of fresh local produce on offer. We round up the best of the bunch.

The Lookout by Gardener's Cottage

Restaurant, British
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The Lookout, Edinburgh - Have a taste of Scotland at The Lookout by Gardener’s Cottage
Courtesy of The Lookout by Gardener’s Cottage

It’s worth the hike (or taxi) up Calton Hill to this glass box perched over the city centre. Floor-to-ceiling windows take full advantage of the view across the shimmering Firth of Forth all the way to Fife. The original Gardener’s Cottage on London Road is famous for local produce, game and foraged ingredients, and the Lookout doesn’t stray from the party line. The set tasting menu changes daily, and recurring favourites like langoustine ravioli take full advantage of Scotland’s natural bounty.

Café St Honoré

Brasserie, French, $$$
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Hidden on a cobbled lane behind Rose Street, Café St Honoré serves up Bib Gourmand-winning French-Scottish fusion. Stepping inside, you could be in any candlelit Parisian bistro. The food is Scottish produce cooked with a dash of French flare. A game terrine or cullen skink for starters shows the best of Scottish field and sea. Mains might take a trip to the continent with Toulouse sausage or confit duck, but the ingredients are all local.

Baba

Hotel Restaurant, Restaurant, Mediterranean, Lebanese, Middle Eastern, $$$
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A mezze feast from the eastern Mediterranean is in store at this swanky George Street establishment. Baba’s Levantine menu is ideal for big groups and social diners. The big sharing platters from the charcoal grill – a whole fish or joints of meat fragrant with spices – are the highlight. The main dining room with the open kitchen is all cosy booths and lengthy group tables, while the nooks and crannies of the library room with old maps and bookcases lining the walls offer a romantic alternative.

El Cartel

Restaurant, Mexican, $$$
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El Cartel restaurant and gate of one of building of University of Edinburgh in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, part of United Kingdom
© Konrad Zelazowski / Alamy Stock Photo

It’s all about tacos and tequila at this tucked-away Mexican cantina on Thistle Street. A cluster of tables, exposed stone and a mosaic wall give an eclectic feel to the cosy dining room. Soft tacos with a variety of funky fillings, from kimchi to confit duck carnitas, are the focus of the precision menu. For a budget-friendly street-food experience in the city centre, grab one of the limited seats and order a frozen margarita to take the edge off the spicy kick.

Cannonball Restaurant and Bar

Restaurant, British, $$$
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Steps away from Edinburgh Castle, Cannonball Restaurant is housed in one of the oldest buildings in the city, and the staff are more than happy to share the hauntings and history of the place with diners. A sleek, modern interior contrasts the dramatic views of the looming castle. Bite-size haggis “cannonballs” with a whisky sauce are a delicious introduction to Scotland’s ubiquitous classic. The attentive service, sometimes from the owners themselves, is as warm as a peaty single malt from their dedicated whisky bar.

Six by Nico

Restaurant, British, $$$
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For a budget tasting menu that doesn’t skimp on quality, head to Six by Nico, a bustling bistro just off Princes Street. The set six-course menu (vegetarian option available) usually offers a playful twist on a world cuisine or British staples. Past menus have included a gastronomic reimagining of the humble chippie, where chips and cheese are turned into slivers of crisp potato under a parmesan foam. The menu changes every six weeks, and it’s always something playful and imaginative guaranteed to get the table talking.

Fhior

Restaurant, British, Contemporary
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Fhior serves dishes made with locally sourced, in-season ingredients
Courtesy of Fhior

A sparse, simple interior lets you know that the food is the focus at this Broughton Street fine-dining spot. The menu showcases the length and breadth of Scottish produce – foraged, fished and organically grown. Fhior offers a five- or seven-course tasting menu, which changes daily. You can always expect to start with the beremeal bread served with homemade butter and a pinch of sea salt. Expertly crafted dishes come with the likes of foraged wild garlic, lovage and wood sorrel, showing the chef’s loyalty to Scottish tradition and produce.

These recommendations were updated on August 18, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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